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Big Data, Hype or Reality?

Invenio Business Solutions – HANA Labs Innovation

If you’re in any way associated with the technology industry then you’ll know that 2013 has been the year of “Big Data”. The subject has attracted massive interest (some might say “hype”!) and everyone, it seems, is talking about the potential benefits that can be gained by implementing a Big Data Strategy.

But despite the voluminous amounts written on the subject (1.9 billion “Big Data” search results on Google at the time of writing!), many company execs are still grappling with the question of how a Big Data strategy will help them improve their business’s performance.

278Naturally the Big Data trend has not gone unnoticed by large and small IT vendors alike. And SAP in particular have been at the forefront of developing solutions that can help manage Big Data. The SAP HANA solution was specifically designed to help organisations tackle the many challenges posed by Big Data. But, because so many firms are still figuring out what those “many challenges” are, we thought the time was right to invest in our own SAP HANA Lab so we can actually show its potential.

The best way to really get under the skin of HANA’s potential was to build and test a range of scenarios so we could measure what can be achieved. Only then can we show customers the ‘why’ of Big Data – and the potential impact this can have their organisation’s performance. And, preliminary tests conclude that the potential is huge.

Below is an interview we held with our Chief Technology Officer, Naveen Agarwal. Naveen has been tasked with leading the development of Invenio’s SAP HANA Lab and, in this interview, he shares with us his thoughts on what the Lab will deliver to our customers as they start to explore the potential of Big Data.

1. What is the rationale behind setting up the HANA Lab here in Invenio?
HANA as a solution is now 3 years old, and a lot of hype was created about it at launch. However, the adoption rate we are seeing is still very low – which we think is due, in part, to the fact that it’s a very expensive proposition. HANA started maturing as a product only in the last 12 months but even today, our customers are still struggling to determine an achievable, realistic ROI that will justify the high capital outlay it demands.

A knock-on effect of low adoption is that first-hand HANA skills are still rare. There are a lot of certified consultants who have attended courses – but very few of them have actual hands-on experience of implementing HANA.

The HANA Lab solves these two problems – helping customers to identify ROI and skilling up our Consultants on a live HANA platform. To do this, in Invenio style, we had to have first-hand, hands-on skills with the product, not just certifications. We have therefore invested in an expensive infrastructure, dedicated a high-calibre team, certified them and got busy developing real applications (Proof of Concepts). The result of this activity is that we now have a hands-on, experienced HANA team that really understands the product – and we can build multiple scenarios for our customers that showcases what HANA can do, thereby helping to de-risk a procurement decision

2. In what way will the HANA Labs benefit our customers?
Customers can see actual adoption of their application before taking a procurement decision. When they decide to buy, they can benefit from our first hand experience with the product for a successful deployment. We are also investing in ground breaking application developments which are only possible on HANA and not on a traditional SAP ERP platform.

3. What is your roadmap for developing Invenio’s HANA competencies?
The Lab is now well established and the team is working on our Proof of Concept for Fast Month End Close, Real Time Reporting and COPA processing. This will finish in early December. Thereafter we are embarking on development of a National Tax Fraud Detection System that a country like the UK for example can adopt to increase tax collection. As our experience grows, more ground breaking applications will quickly follow.

4. From a technical perspective, what are the advantages to CTO’s in embracing a Big Data strategy?
The main advantage of HANA is the magnitude of speed increase which is staggering. HANA has shown it can sometimes be tens of thousands times faster than traditional databases. That brings a whole new perspective of how an IT system can be used. For example, if an analysis of National Tax Payer database to detect fraud was previously taking months, it can now be done in seconds – even while a tax raid is underway.

Next Steps
Invenio Solutions are an SAP Gold Partner providing services and solutions worldwide. If you would like more information on our HANA Lab or other services please contact us.